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The Cinematograph Act, 1918

During the British India, within the rule of East India Company, the Cinematograph Act, 1918 was enacted by the Governor General of India in Council. The Act no. 2 of 1918 was enacted for making provisions to regulate the exhibitions by means of Cinematographs. The Governor General in Council has given assent to the present enactment on 6th day of March, 1918. There are in all eleven sections in which the provisions of this Act were divided.

The Act as aforesaid was short tilted as ‘The Cinematograph Act, 1918 and for its extension, as added by the Amending Act of 62 of 1949, the areas comprising of all the part- A, B and C States other than the areas of State of Jammu and Kashmir, relating to the sanctioning of Cinematograph films for exhibition, the provisions were applicable. Certain terms used in the provisions of the Act were defined under section 2 thereof, which includes adult, authority, cinematograph, etc. The said Amending Act of 1949 added a new provision dealing with construction rule in cases of provisions applicable to the Part- B States, where it was specified that the reference to the District Magistrate in relation to the Part- B states, under this Act should be construed as references to the corresponding authority in that State.

It was specifically provided in the Act that the persons should give exhibition by means of a Cinematograph in only the licensed place or only in compliance with the terms and conditions specified in the license. The Authority which was specified by this Act was District Magistrate or Commissioner of Police for the Presidency town. However, the State Government was empowered under this Act to constitute other licensing authority for the whole or any part of concerned State for the purpose of this Act. Such specification by the State Government should be notified by it in the Official Gazette. There were also provided certain instances where such licensing authorities should not grant license under this Act. Such instances were including, if the rules made under this law were not complied with and if adequate precautions have not been taken in the concerned place for safety of persons attending such exhibitions. Similarly, certain restrictions were also added to the Act by the Amending Act of 1949, as the license so granted in this Act should be for the films other than a film which was certified by the Authority as suitable for unrestricted exhibition at public, the license so granted to be for the films which were certified by the Authority as Suitable for public exhibition however, restricted to the persons adult only, etc. Such conditions could be imposed by the licensing authority under this Act. Similarly, the Central Government was also empowered to provide for certain directions to the licensees either in general or in particular in order to regulate exhibition of any film.

Further, as per provision of section 6 of the Act which was added to the Act by the Amending Act of 1949, the Central Government is empowered to provide for the authority to examine and certify the films’s suitability for public exhibition without any restrictions, or restricted to the adults only, as the case may be. For the films unrestricted to the public exhibition the Certificate ‘U’ could be granted by the authority and in case of films restricted to the adults, the certificate in letter ‘A’ could be granted by it. And if the Film was found non- suitable for unrestricted public exhibition or for restricted exhibition for adults only, the Authority herein was required to inform applicant about such decision. Any persons who was feeling aggrieved by the decisions of the Authority as to grant of certificate, then they can approach to the Central Government against such decision with appeals, within the period of 30 days from such decision’s date.

The Act was also making provisions to empower the State Governments and the Local Authority like District Magistrate or the Commissioner of Police in relation to their respective jurisdictions to make an order suspending exhibition of any Film, if they found such film is also such nature as is likely to cause a breach of the peace. And it was made clear that while such suspension is in force, the concerned film to be treated as an uncertified film in relation to the concerned areas. However, such orders can only be made for the period of 2 months only, but if in case the concerned State Government if found that necessary to continue the said order, then the matter to be referred to the Central Government for its decision.

In the penal provisions, the Act was providing that using of Cinematograph Film or even allowing such use by the Owner of in- charge thereof, in breach of the provisions of this Act, or in breach of terms and conditions of license so granted in this Act, is offensive. And the punishment for such offensive acts’ commission was provided that it may extend to Rs. 1000 and for committing continuing breach the there will also be imposed fine which can be extended up to Rs. 100 for each day of such commission breach and also such person’s license under this Act can also be revoked by the licensing authority. Also certain other acts provided under this Act which are offensive under this provision and are also subjected to penal actions.

The Central Government was vested with the power of rule making under this Act which was required to be for carrying out the provisions of this Act and to give effect thereto. And also certain matters were provided under section 9 of the Act, on which that Government was expected make such rules. And in furtherance to this provision, the Central Government has made the Cinematograph (Censorship) Rules, 1951. Similarly, the Central Government was again empowered to direct to the State Governments on the provisions of this Act. The Central Government was also having authority to make written orders for exempting any Cinematograph exhibition or any class thereof from the provisions of this Act and also from the rules made under this Act.

As such, though the Act was making all effective provisions relating to the object thereof, but by the section 18 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (Act no. 37 of 1952) which was enacted by the India Parliament, the present Act has been repealed with certain conditions as provided in that repealing law.

Download & Read the Bare Act: The Cinematograph Act, 1918-pdf

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